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Tips For The Traveling Executive: Is Elite Status Worth It Anymore?
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Tips For The Traveling Executive: Is Elite Status Worth It Anymore? - Executive Leadership Articles

Tips For The Traveling Executive: Is Elite Status Worth It Anymore?

Executive Leadership Articles

Tips For The Traveling Executive: Is Elite Status Worth It Anymore?

In the past couple of years, nearly every major airline has switched its frequent flyer program so that points are earned on fares, rather than miles. This is among the latest moves by carriers to walk the line between luring customers while discouraging the gaming of the programs. For the business traveler who flies on the company’s dime, the changes may not have significant impact. However, other changes, deeper into the programs where road warriors reside, have made elite status a greater challenge to attain, leading many to question whether elite status is still worth the pursuit.

There was a time when elite status was bestowed strictly on mileage points, but those days appear to be over. The major carriers now use some combination of mileage thresholds, flight segment thresholds, and fare thresholds to separate the regular flyer from the elite. Now, in order to hit the upper tiers, one must accrue miles, spend a certain cumulative amount on fares, and fly a certain number of trips in order to get the elite perks. The question of value comes up right here, because most airlines are now selling those perks to their regular, first-level flyers. For an often reasonable price bump, non-elite flyers can now purchase an upgrade to business or first class before the upgrades are made available to elite members.

For flight-mile gamers—those who look for vulnerabilities in the system to get as much bang for their buck as possible—this is only the latest move in a never-ending chess match. The game is rigged in favor of the airlines, but there is always a counter-move waiting to be discovered. There are multiple websites dedicated to exploring and exploiting holes in the system’s armor, offering advice on the best credit cards for maximum frequent flyer benefit, or the “status challenges” that offer the best reward for the lowest risk. Status challenges are like games within the game: fly X miles within Y time and you’re granted elite status automatically, with a small fee. While this pursuit of elite status at the lowest monetary cost seems attainable, what it costs in time and energy can be prohibited. Most of us are too consumed with actual work to spend hours each week keeping an eye on the gamer websites, and that slashed-fare redeye to Honolulu and back twice in one month, just for the miles, isn’t doable.

Those who simply fly for the purpose of getting to work don’t have the time for this kind of treasure hunting: they need to get where they’re going with as little hassle as possible in as much comfort as possible. These flyers are the heart of the original purpose of frequent flyer programs, many years ago, when airlines courted loyalty and rewarded it in some kind of commensurate fashion. Here is where a little bit of homework each year, hopefully done by someone in your business office instead of you, might make elite status attainable with no effort beyond your regular travel. Thankfully, several websites create comparison charts for the big carriers, making it possible for your firm to determine which program makes the most sense for your travelers, without having to comb through the dark corners of each airline’s website. Of course, this doesn’t ensure elite status, but it gives you the best shot at earning it while conducting your business as you always do.

One business travel columnist, Joe Brancatelli for BizJournals.com, suggests that elite status just isn’t worth it. Do what normal people do, he advises, and look for the best fare and the best schedule. Then purchase your upgrades and perks. You get the benefits bestowed upon the elite without having to do the hard work, and on this per-perk, per-trip basis, you may spend less money for the same comforts. Considering the additional savings on time, stress, and energy you save by making arrangements this way, it may be a better value. If you also save money this way, you’re winning the game you’re far too busy to play.

Reference Link:
BizJournals.com: http://www.bizjournals.com/bizjournals/blog/seat2B/2016/07/joe-brancatelli-frequent-flier-programs.html

 

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Tips For The Traveling Executive: Is Elite Status Worth It Anymore? - Executive Leadership Articles

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